Zuni Fetishes

Collecting Zuni fetishes is highly personal.  Speak to one collector and he will tell you about each carving's personality.  Another may speak of her attraction to the realistic Zuni carvings of the Cheama family.   Yet another may enjoy the humor in Leonard Halate's dinosaur carvings.  Whatever the attraction, collecting Zuni fetishes is extremely popular.  For many who wish to enjoy the beauty of Native American art but are limited in budget or space, Zuni fetish collecting is the perfect solution.


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Talismans have been a part of cultures throughout the world.  Archaeologists have found figures at sites scattered around the globe.  A fetish is an object, natural or man-made, in which a spirit is thought to reside and which can be used to effect either good or evil.  The word fetish comes from the Portuguese word "feitico" which comes from the Latin word "facticus" which means artificially produced.  For the purposes of this discussion, when we speak of fetishes, we are referring to the animals carved for the consumer market by the people of the southwestern Pueblo cultures.  A few carvers produce fetishes at other Pueblo villages, but the majority of Native American fetish carvings made for the consumer market today are produced by Zuni carvers.

Navajo people use fetishes as well.  Navajo fetish use concentrates most often on protection animals for their livestock.  Navajo uranium miners were known to carry badger and mole fetishes for protection.  Often Navajos will acquire a pueblo fetish for their personal use rather than making their own.  The vast majority of animal carvings made by Navajo carvers are for the consumer market.  ---  edited by the author, Georgiana Kennedy Simpson from her original text featured in the book, Collecting Authentic Indian Arts & Crafts.

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This site was last updated on November 19, 2017.

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